21 Top Spots for Water Ice in Philadelphia
Where to cool off with the city's signature frozen treat...
The moment the winter breaks and the mercury begins to rise, Philadelphians of all persuasions look in one direction for chilly relief: a cup of water ice , one of the region’s most cherished warm-weather treats.
This beyond-cool confection — traditionally a combination of ice, fruit and sweeteners blended to a smooth consistency — is scooped in all manner of settings. The Philadelphia tradition lives on via a vibrant community of entrepreneurial street vendors, mom-and-pop shops and family-owned purveyors, each with its own techniques and recipes.
Though it’s commonly referred to as “Italian ice” outside of Philadelphia, since immigrants from that European nation are often credited with popularizing it in the United States, locally, “water ice” is the preferred nomenclature for this satisfying treat.
Below, find some of Philadelphia’s best water ice spots, including beloved Italian-American stalwarts ( John’s , Pop’s) , West Philly favorites ( Fred’s , Siddiq’s ), modern innovators ( D’Emilio’s, Mama Maria’s ) and many must-try shops in between.
Punxsutawney has Groundhog Day. Roxborough has the annual re-opening of C & C Creamery . Since 1951, C & C Creamery has been hand making ice cream and water ice on-site with a rotating list of flavors. Hits include the Pineapple Dole Whip and the gelati, a Philly parfait of water ice layered with ice cream. Another must try: the creamy Water Ice Shake. Order your treats of choice in the shop or via the drive-thru (yes, the drive-thru).
Water ice as a midnight snack? Yes, please! Open year-round, Chloe’s Corner is a family-owned and -operated shop in the heart of bustling Manayunk . Alongside frozen treats, including Via Veneto Italian Ice and Bassetts Ice Cream, this late-night shop serves — and delivers — burgers, fries, cheesesteaks and more. (You know, the essentials.) Try popular water ice flavors like Orange Creamsicle, Root Beer Float and Tye Dye. When you see the hot pink flamingo, you know you’re at the right spot.
Chuck’s Homemade Water Ice
Friendly staff, late-night service and a streamlined list of refreshing flavors make this South Philly water ice stand a neighborhood fave. Popular options include blueberry, watermelon and strawberry lemonade, but for the full experience, step up to the window and grab a cheesy pizza pretzel to go with your preferred flavor flav. Your taste buds will thank you.
Bucks County native Chris D’Emilio left behind a career as a casino dealer to launch this South Philly storefront . D’Emilio is known for crafting unusual water ice flavors (known as “sorbetto” here), such as blueberry pomegranate; pineapple orange and guava; and birch beer.
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this spring, West Philly native Andre Andrews takes pride in the concoctions at Dre’s Homemade Water Ice and Ice Cream . Mango and passionfruit water ice are draws along with Dre’s Southern-inspired premium ice creams like peach cobbler and sweet potato pie. The popular mobile carts and trucks can be found around the city at spots like LOVE Park , at events like the Roots Picnic and around the country at festivals in Atlanta and Chicago. Check Instagram for updates and Dre’s latest whereabouts. (Bonus: The sweet treats are also available for delivery.)
This spot has served the Kensington neighborhood since way back in 1965. Today it offers more than 50 “outrageous flavors” at the storefront — including Sour Patch Mango and Reggae Rainbow (cherry, pineapple and pistachio) — and wholesale. National shipping is also available year-round.
Located in the Kingsessing neighborhood of Southwest Philly, Fred’s has a massive menu, both savory and sweet, where patrons can grab chicken tenders, a corn dog, funnel cake and an ice cream sundae in a single order. Water ice, however, will always be a mainstay here, in flavors like kiwi, sour apple, bubble gum and the popular Swedish Fish.
Husband-and-wife team Jimmy and Michelle Cialella continue the tradition that Jimmy’s father started a quarter-century ago, serving their signature water ice (chocolate and vanilla fudge are just two of many longtime favorites), along with gelato, pizza pretzels and more to their fans in Pennsport .
An Italian Market -adjacent destination since 1945, this third-generation family-owned shop does water ice the old-fashioned way, with no artificial additives. Rotating specials add variety to the classic flavor lineup of lemon, cherry, chocolate and pineapple. And John’s roving water ice truck brings frosty relief all summer long. Pro tip: Ask for a paper sleeve of pretzel rods, and use them as spoons for your water ice ice, baby.
When the weather gets warm, lines form at King’s Water Ice & Ice Cream in Overbrook and Strawberry Mansion for tasty water ice flavors, fresh soft pretzels, hot funnel cake and munchies that’ll remind you of summer nights on the boardwalk. King’s offers a rotating list of rare flavors including piña colada, grape and peach, and the late-night hours are a plus. But keep the cards at home; it’s cash-only.
VIEW OTHER LOCATIONS (1)
In business since 1940, the Mancuso family’s humble East Passyunk storefront is a destination for specialty Italian cheeses and pantry items. But insiders know that when the weather warms up, it’s also one of the best low-key spots in South Philly for authentic water ice, offered in the classic lemon, cherry and chocolate varieties.
Unlike many vendors, this Port Richmond spot keeps some of the fruit in its water ice for texture. Expect creative flavors like the Philly Special (sour apple, lime, margarita and pineapple) and Be Bananaz, along with milkshakes, pretzels and soft-serve ice cream to round out the menu.
Whether you’re in the mood for homemade water ice, creamy milkshakes or fluffy soft serve loaded with toppings, Michael’s Water Ice has you covered. This dog-friendly Roxborough shop has an ever-changing menu of water ice flavors, including tangerine, cotton candy and watermelon, but the cherry on top is the ’90s-style teal and purple Solo cups. You know the ones.
Morrone’s Water Ice may be Philadelphia’s longest-serving water ice stand, with loyal followers lining up in Overbrook since 1925. Morrone’s offers a hefty selection of water ice flavors, from classics like cherry and mango to more adventurous blends like rum and pistachio. The secret, they say, is in the smooth “just right” texture. While you’re cooling off with a frozen treat, make a meal out of your visit with customer favorites, including beef patties and pepperoni pizza pretzels.
With locations in King of Prussia and Phoenixville , Petrucci’s satisfies year-round when you’re craving water ice outside Philly city limits. The mini-chain makes its water ice fresh daily, in flavors like cappuccino, Bada Bing Cherry and Bahama Mama.
VIEW OTHER LOCATIONS (1)
An award-winning South Philly stalwart with an offshoot in Havertown, Pop’s pops open its sidewalk window every March through October. Limited seasonal special flavors include iced tea, grove stand-style peach, mango and even pumpkin spice.
VIEW OTHER LOCATIONS (1)
Philly’s water ice ambassador has locations from Boston to Charlotte to Houston and beyond. Rita’s extensive menu begins with classic water ice, moves to sugar-free versions and extends to fanciful, often colorful takes on gelati, frozen custard, drinks and even cakes. One of the surest signs that winter is over: the free cup of water ice on offer from Rita’s on the first day of spring every single year.
While it’s beloved in Northwest Philly’s Roxborough neighborhood and beyond for its hearty breakfast sandwiches served year-round, Rose’s Real Italian Water Ice remains true to its name, doling out homemade water ice in an ever-changing array of flavors from a tiny, brightly painted corner shop.
Siddiq Moore first introduced his high-quality, all-natural water ice via street cart on the campus of his alma mater, Temple University, more than 20 years ago. Since 2017, he’s been operating out of a colorful and welcoming shop just off the corner of 60th and Irving streets in West Philadelphia, with a new location in Chester. Moore specializes in creative flavors like strawberry daiquiri, cantaloupe and white grape.
VIEW OTHER LOCATIONS (1)
Italy natives Nobile and Olimpia Tranzilli introduced their eponymous sweets shop to Germantown in 1969, growing from a simple scoop-and-serve in the subsequent decades to a wholesale purveyor of scratch-made water ice. Purists opt for traditional cherry, lemon or chocolate, while the more adventurous of the bunch go for flavors like cotton candy, kiwi-strawberry and mint chocolate chip.
A short drive outside city limits, the Bissert family’s Yardley Ice House opened in Bucks County in 1994 with exciting water ice styles made by hand. Inventive flavors like lemon meringue, cherry Bourdeaux and Key Lime pie share the menu with shakes, floats, sundaes and more.